New DWS CEO Stefan Hoops took to LinkedIn last week to criticise the media response to greenwashing allegations made against his firm and called on members of the press to “keep it factual”.
Hoops (pictured) took issue with headlines claiming the German asset manager had seen “massive outflows in Q2” and said “fee-generating assets were remarkably stable”.
DWS Q2 results noted overall assets under management (AUM) fell from €902bn to €833bn during the quarter, which represents a 7.6% fall amid what it described as “a very difficult market environment”.
Not only is it difficult to attribute what portion of this decline owes to market dynamics versus negative press surrounding its ESG credentials, but it is also worth situating these figures in a broader context.
During the same quarter, the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, saw a more severe AUM collapse of 11.3% from $9.57trn to $8.49trn.
Hoops’ public defence of DWS comes less than three months after he left his role as head of the corporate banking division at parent company Deutsche Bank to take over from outgoing CEO Asoka Woehrmann.
Woerhmann announced he would leave his role a day after 50 officers from the Frankfurt public prosecutor, BaFin and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) raided DWS and Deutsche Bank offices to investigate allegations of greenwashing against the asset management arm of the business.
Hoops suggested the incident could be a potentially teachable moment and said the firm will ensure “all learnings are implemented”.
“We will have more experience than most in dealing with ambiguous rules which will come in handy in a world that is still debating whether nuclear is green and where ESG will feature prominently in the US midterm election,” he said.
These ambiguities ring true given the EU only voted to add nuclear to its taxonomy of sustainable activities in July, while nuclears treatment in other frameworks such as the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) – and in turn ESG benchmarked products – remains less clear-cut.
Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is still in the process of finalising its ESG criteria – with input from either side of the political divide – while the IFRS Foundation is still plotting the course for its International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB).
Looking ahead, Hoops said previously the post-Global Financial Crisis regime could be at an end, meaning greater volatility and higher inflation could become structural fixtures.
“After a decade of sunshine, the next few years will see a renaissance of active asset management – which is our clear competitive edge,” he concluded.